I desperately miss travel and long for traveling the way we did before the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives. Travel means so many things to different people: It can feed our souls with exciting new adventures, allow us to see stunning sights, immerse us in different cultures, learn new things about ourselves, further our business relationships or – at its core – connect us to loved ones and places and people we care about the most. Or it can simply get us from point A to point B.
For many, travel will never be the same as it was before the pandemic. Those looking for adventure will embrace travel, traveling more often and to different destinations. Those worried about safety, despite vaccines, may never return to pre-pandemic levels of travel frequency or locations. So when travel companies are trying to figure out what to do next, and how to not only survive but to thrive in these changing times, I’d suggest they focus on understanding their customers. Chances are good we need to get to know them all over again. There has never been a more important time to truly know who your customers are and what their travel needs and interests are so you can better understand what’s motivating their travel experiences and engage with them in a personalized and relevant way along their journey. And that means your customer data can be one of your brand’s most valuable assets, making it essential that you nurture it and treat it as the treasure trove it is.
The basic foundation and starting point for knowing your customers and being a truly customer-centric company is to establish a reliable identity resolution and management process so you know the person across channels and devices. Again, this is critical – customers want you to know who they are so you can deliver personalized, relevant messaging whether they’re on your app, checking in online, calling your call center, receiving marketing via any channel, etc. So it is imperative your adtech and martech stack is connected at the foundational data layer so you always know who your customers are no matter how or where you’re communicating with them.
A solid identity solution can help you create a single customer view that combines disparate data and every version of a customer between moves, name changes, personal and business addresses, across all channels and devices. Identity is the cornerstone of any brand’s audience or analytics needs, not to mention operational and collaborative use cases, and the list could go on. It allows you to make sure that when you’re talking to your customers you really understand them, their preferences, their interests, their travel patterns, their buying insights in and even outside of your brand. Knowing all these things can help build and maintain customers’ loyalty to your brand and, most importantly, enhance the customer experience.
Identity is a discussion that’s much bigger than we can fully address here, but the benefits of having a private, scalable and configurable first-party identity graph, what Acxiom builds uniquely and separately for our clients, are abundant. For one, it yours – it’s private, it’s fully customized to your specific needs and you own it, so you’re not reliant on walled gardens, changing technology or vendor changes. Having a system that takes into account the future demise of the third-party cookie, which is coming in 2022, is paramount in the quest to know your customer. Secondly, it will allow you to properly clean your data, complete any missing contact information, and make sure your data is in the best possible form. Thirdly, it will enable you to accommodate the privacy legislation that will continue to change. This will enable you to be ready for anything that will come your way. Lastly, it will make measurement more accurate so you can better optimize your ad delivery, optimize spend across networks and publishers and maximize media investments to power more personalized experiences.
This is the second blog in a series from Acxiom that provides five strategies – Knowing your Customer being the first – travel marketers can employ during this challenging time to speed recovery and put themselves in a position of maximum success as travel starts to pick up again. These strategies are described in “Travel in 2021 Is the Tale of Two Pandemics,” a new eBook from Acxiom.
The next blog topic will address the concept of Developing Better Insights about customers. Because once a solid identity foundation is established, there’s a plethora of information to amass on customers to fully understand them better and create more personalized and contextually relevant customer experiences.
I know we are all looking forward to a time when we’re out in the world again, traveling for whatever our own personal reasons may be!